People often talk about wanting to improve their personal brand. For quick understanding - your personal brand is how other experience you when they interact with you. David McNally and Karl Speak, authors of ‘Be Your Own Brand’ explain it further, “Your brand is a perception or emotion, maintained by somebody other than you, that describes the total experience of having a relationship with you.”
It is the unique combination of skills, experience, and personality that we want the world to see. It is the telling of our story. It reflects in our conduct, behaviour, spoken and unspoken words, and attitudes. And when it’s done well, it can enhance our profile in ways that go far beyond just our professional expertise.
I am sure you must be have seen some successful examples of Personal Branding within your peer group. You might have even seriously considered starting with a branding exercise yourself; or you might already be putting a thoughtfully constructed branding strategy into action as I write this. Regardless of which stage of personal branding journey you are currently passing through, networking is a crucial aspect that deserves some deep thought and strategizing.
Naturally, you must already be networking and meeting people as part of your operational activities, but is that useful for your personal brand? Most people tend to think that an organizational meet and greet will automatically feed into their personal brand!
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work like that. As you are representing your organization at networking events, you naturally end up talking more about your work or your company’s reputation. This does not equate to networking for your own personal brand.
The more connections we make—and the more value we can provide in our interactions—the more likely it is that our personal brand will be recognized. The best networking opportunities for our personal brand are cultivated over time and consist of a combination of integrity and quality that we can offer to people. Michael Goldberg puts it succinctly, “Networking is simply a proactive approach to meeting people to learn with the hope of helping them.”
Even for an experienced hand-shaker like you, there is always a way to add to your business bonding skills. Here are some ways to up your game:
You are the sum of many different things – your work is just one of them. You have to bring the elements of your personal branding message into your official interactions. In case you haven’t yet crafted a personal branding strategy and elevator pitch or a message, then now is the time to decide how you want to present yourself. A very simple example of this would be - If you want to present your down-to-earth, straight-talking credentials to the world, then you can eschew jargon-heavy, indirect talk and stand out as the person who says-it-like-it-is.
Be a giver, and you will be remembered! You don’t have to be a giver in the material sense; even being generous with your time and attention is sometimes enough. While interacting with peers at an event or even online, try to maintain an overall aspect of helpfulness. Advice, encouragement, a compliment, referrals, and sharing connections – all don’t require much effort, but when done consistently, these small acts of kindness will undoubtedly add to your personal brand.
It’s important to know who’s going to be at an event, which we can often do by checking social media – conference hashtags on Twitter are a good place to start. Then make a shortlist of people you want to meet. Google them and view LinkedIn profiles, so that when you do meet someone new, you will know something about them.
People often think that networking means meeting as many people as possible. But that's not the case. Making a few meaningful connections is far better than working an entire room. If you can have three or four deeper conversations, then both you and the people you meet will be more likely to remember the interaction.
You don’t have to keep your online and offline networking efforts siloed. Use them as an extension of each other. Follow up meetings and interactions by connecting with people on LinkedIn or engage with your LinkedIn community to organise physical meetups at events.
Engaging with people online is important for people of all ages, but particularly if we want to make contacts with younger prospects or companies working in a digital space. Remember, though, nothing solidifies a business relationship like meeting face-to-face.
By making networking a priority and regularly reaching out to people from different fields, you can broaden your network even outside your industry. You never know where your next opportunity is going to come from.
Yes, it can sometimes be a challenge to network for your personal brand. Many of you may feel a bit uncomfortable with the concept of personal marketing; after all, being self-effacing or not bragging are ingrained in our collective psyche as admirable qualities – and personal marketing does require some amount of blowing your own trumpet which might put you off!
I am here to tell you it doesn’t have to be like this! Sure, you can share your photos or videos of receiving awards and giving talks, but that is just one part of it. The rest is all about respect and trust; it is about being truly helpful and kind to people in your circle; it is about valuing your contacts and not taking your friends and business connections for granted.
Networking is a long-term investment. You don’t have to bombard your social media feed today! But do keep the tips I shared above in mind and practice them gently. With time, you will feel at ease, and nurturing your personal brand will slowly become second nature.
We've all been there: you invest in a leadership training program and hope to see the promised results. But, months later, nothing has changed. Meanwhile, your team is still struggling with communication and collaboration issues.
Did you know that only 50% of leadership training programs yield the desired results? That's a pretty startling statistic, and one that should serve as a wake-up call to any company looking for increased productivity, better employee engagement, and reduced turnover. The reason is simple: Leadership development programs don't always deliver the ROI they promise because they're often designed in isolation from your organization's specific needs.
We all know that leadership training programs are not a one-and-done deal. They require continual reinforcement and upkeep to be effective. But why do they fail in the first place?
It's not just you, it's pretty much everyone else too. Leadership training programs have traditionally failed because of a few key factors. In this blog post, we will share all that can go wrong so that you can create more effective leadership programs by focusing on what matters most to your business. This way, when it comes time for evaluation at the end of your program, you'll know whether or not it was worth investing in.
Factors that contribute to the failure of leadership development programs
If the system does not change, it will set people up to fail. Research in the 1950s found that most supervisors regressed to their pre-training views after a while. The only exceptions were those whose bosses practised and believed in the new leadership style the program was designed to teach.
Training programs do not facilitate organizational change. Even well-trained and motivated employees are unable to apply their new knowledge and skills when they return to their units which are entrenched in established ways of doing things. In short, individuals have less power to change the system surrounding them than that system has to shape them. Organizations need “fertile soil” in place before the “seeds” of training interventions can grow.
When organizational change and development efforts are championed by senior leaders then training gains the most traction. That’s because such efforts motivate people to learn and change; create the conditions for them to apply what they’ve learned; foster immediate improvements in individual and organizational effectiveness; and put in place systems that help sustain the learning.
Organizations are systems of interacting elements: Roles, responsibilities, and relationships are defined by organizational structure, processes, leadership styles, people’s professional and cultural backgrounds, and HR policies and practices. All those elements together drive organizational behaviour and performance. If the system does not change, it will not support and sustain individual behaviour change—indeed, it will set people up to fail.
The effectiveness of any manager depends on the clear strategic direction that they have from the top management. Many companies consistently struggle with unclear direction on strategy and values, which often leads to conflicting priorities. This creates confusion and dissipation of valuable resources. When senior executives themselves don’t work as a team and are not fully committed to a new direction or acknowledged necessary changes in their behaviour, it is quite difficult to expect the rest of the managerial team to be able to deliver effectively. The problem then is more about the incongruence between what they learn in the training program and what they see on the ground in their organisation.
Sometimes a top-down or laissez-faire style by the leader prevents honest conversation about problems. Employees hesitate to tell the senior team about obstacles to the organization’s effectiveness. This, coupled with a lack of coordination across businesses, functions, or regions due to poor organizational design and inadequate leadership time and attention to talent issues can create an environment where performance will be hindered, no matter how good the training program is.
Hence while developing leadership programs, it is important to start at the top, ideally through a coaching intervention. Coaching of the senior executives will help bring clarity on the strategic direction and values. This can then be cascaded down to the next few layers through group coaching and training.
By addressing management practices and leadership behaviour that shape the system before training individual employees, leaders create a favourable context for applying the learning. The systemic changes encourage—even require—the desired behaviours.
Too many training initiatives rest on the assumption that one size fits all and that the same group of skills or style of leadership is appropriate regardless of strategy, organizational culture, or CEO mandate.
Context is key. One size does not fit all. Many organizations invest in off-the-shelf programs or send their managers to academic leadership courses offered by well-respected universities without considering the real impact and results they are looking for. While these can be great for the individuals in terms of their personal brand building, it does not serve the purpose for the organization. Companies need to ask themselves what the desired outcome is and how a program will relate to specific organizational goals.
Often, leadership training programs are offered as a one-and-done approach. In other words, you attend a 2-day training and that is the last you hear of it. But while a one-and-done approach satisfies the need to do something, it ignores a critical fact: leadership behaviours and new habits are developed over time. Leadership development is all about creating good leadership habits. As we know habits cannot be changed just from attending a 2-day class.
Effective leadership development needs to be constructed as a learning journey that unfolds over time. But not only this—it should incorporate continuous coaching to help observe and reinforce good habits. It should also provide opportunities for skill practice and application. Nothing can replace on-the-job training and giving real-time feedback.
To ensure success for your team, combine professional development with coaching or mentoring sessions focused on practical application.
So, there you have it – some of the key reasons why your leadership training program may not be delivering the results you are hoping for.
Becoming a more effective leader often requires changing behaviour which also means adjusting underlying mindsets. Identifying some of the deepest, “below the surface” thoughts, feelings, assumptions, and beliefs is usually a precondition of behavioural change—something that’s often missing in leadership courses.
Companies can avoid the most common mistakes in leadership training and increase the odds of success by first doing the groundwork of creating fertile soil for desired change, establishing clarity about strategic direction and values, matching specific leadership skills and traits to the context at hand; embedding leadership development in real work through coaching and mentoring interventions that investigate the mind-sets that underpin behaviour.
For designing effective leadership development programs in Singapore and India, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2020 is coming to an end and what a year it’s been! The global pandemic has really challenged us in so many ways and it’s been hard for many of us to feel in control as the crisis just drags on. Our businesses have taken a hit but we know that there are many around us who have been hit even harder.
It’s natural then for many business leaders to feel guilty about the hard decisions they’ve had to take in terms of layoffs, closures and disruptions in service. A client of mine had to let go of a senior employee in the US and he knew this meant that the employee had to go back to his home country and his entire life would get disrupted. He was also worried that the employee would no longer have health cover to take care of the special needs of his child. A friend who is the CHRO of a large organisation was distraught when a young employee passed away due to COVID and he felt he couldn’t do anything to save her.
Guilt is an unsettling emotion to deal with. But it’s also a sign that you’re a conscientious leader. While there are many things that are out of your control, one way of dealing with this guilt when it hits you is to re-evaluate and improve the way you approach your employees and company, and demonstrate compassionate leadership in difficult circumstances.
Here are 5 ways in which you can do this:
If you have a small team, it’s possible for you to do so yourself. If you have a large employees base, put together small cross-functional teams to spread out and listen to the wider group. This will help you plan your initiatives better.
When you have no choice but to implement furloughs, reduced hours, or pay cuts, don’t delegate sharing the news to HR - it feels demoralizing, disrespectful, and lacks empathy. If you are responsible for the decision, it is you who should be sharing it. This sends a clear message to not just the people who are impacted but also the others around them and support the morale of the team.
If some of your decisions have gone wrong and negatively affected others, take remedial action as soon as you know or can and do it as publicly as possible. Acknowledge your mistake and then communicate new developments frequently and consistently. Decisions can go either r way based on the limited information that we operate on – you are not expected to be right all the time. But how you own up and make amends is what your team and customers are looking at.
Try and see what benefits can be retained even when someone goes on a furlough or pay cut. Help the ones who’ve been laid off to find new jobs. Provide career transition support wherever possible.
People respond to that. They connect with you and they trust you when you’re being the best version of you. Talk about how you balance your own personal and work commitments. Talk about your own challenges and encourage sharing of tips and resources for managing workload, scheduling and so on. You don’t have to have a stoic mask all the time. Let people know that you also struggle sometimes and that’s okay. That’s being human.
So, to sum it up, it’s understandable if you as a leader are struggling with guilty feelings as you see the disruptions and struggles that the Covid-19 crisis is causing your employees and colleagues, sometimes specifically as a result of your own actions. But if you reframe your feelings of guilt as an opportunity to consciously and thoughtfully make the best decisions possible, communicate clearly, and behave with compassion and concern for both your employees and yourself, then you can help steer their teams and organizations toward better times.
If you want to talk about this, just click on Request Consultation and pick a convenient time for discussion or send me a WhatsApp message using the button above.
Many times, when I bring up coaching with business leaders and owners, they react by saying that I’m doing well. I don’t think I need a coach.
To my mind, there are two possible reasons for this reaction – one, they are not aware about what real coaching is and its benefits, and two, they are not ready to have a hard look at themselves and see what’s not working. They may be afraid of what they might uncover and are happier just coasting along till they are forced to confront these issues.
I always make an effort to explain what real coaching is and how it’s different from having a mentor or guide or just reading self-help books. I also make it a point to share that coaching is not about solving problems. It is about unblocking the realisation of your potential. You can do and achieve much more than what you are doing currently just by getting out of your own way. A coach helps you get out of your own way and go after those big hairy audacious goals.
Ask yourself this
Having a coach is not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of ambition, it’s a sign of hunger for bigger impact, it’s a sign of courage to work on oneself.
Go ahead, tell me you don’t need a coach…
Click on the Request Consultation button above for a discovery call.
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